Florida Fishing Report

Gulf Coast?Anglers up in the Panhandle are really focusing on grouper right now, as the cooler temperatures move the fish into shallow water. Look for the fish around the hard bottom and wrecks in 30- to 70-feet of water, where a live pinfish or trolled plugs will produce grouper to 18-pounds.Spotted seatrout and redfish are the targets of anglers fishing Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay, with the reds holding tight to the mangrove shorelines and the trout out in the open grass. Target the reds by tossing a Molting, Good Penny or Drunk Monkey Bass Assassin BLURP 5-inch Sea Shad with a 1/8-ounce jighead tight to the mangroves and working the bait V-E-R-Y slowly with long pauses between twitches. The trout will eat the same baits only worked faster over sand holes in the grass. Expect to catch Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish and pompano as well.Offshore anglers working the reefs, wrecks and channel markers between Lostman?s River and Marco Island will find the first of the winter cobia moving through. Live shrimp, pinfish, threadfins or a chartreuse jig will take cobia to 50 pounds right now.Keys?The Islamorada sailfish season has kicked into gear, with fish showering ballyhoo schools on the reef near Alligator Light. Sails to 50-pounds have been caught this week by boats pitching live pilchards, threadfins or Spanish sardines in front of surfing fish, or power drifting with the same baits out on kites. Twenty-seven boats fishing the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament over the weekend caught 205 fish in three days of fishing.East Coast?Sailfish and dolphin highlight the offshore fishing bite from the Martini Glass off Ft. Lauderdale south to Fowey Light. Most boats are live-baiting and flying kites, with the hot bites in anywhere from 100- to 220-feet of water. There have also been some nice dolphin and king mackerel mixed in.Inshore fishing in the Indian River near Stuart is focused on snook and pompano, with both species being found on the flats and St. Lucie and Fort Pierce Inlets. Target the snook with croakers, pilchards or pinfish and pompano with a #405 Nylure Jig or Hank Brown Pompano Jig, and look for fish skipping in the boat wake.The hottest sailfish bite in Florida right now is taking place between Fort Pierce and Sebastian Inlets, with boats trolling ballyhoo catching up to 15 fish per day. The bite has been along the color changes and over structure in 120- to 150-feet of water.             Jacksonville anglers targeting seatrout at the mouth of creeks with Stinky Pink colored Assassin jerkbaits are catching 30 to 40 fish per trip, along with a handful of redfish and the occasional flounder. Fish the outgoing tides and work the deeper holes at the mouth of the creeks and the feeder channels running into the creeks.Freshwater--Lake Okeechobee continues to see the best bass fishing in 20 years, as anglers working the outside edges of the grass lines from King's Bar to Tin House Cove are catching up to 40 fish per day using live shiners. Every day anglers are catching fish over 8-pounds right now, with Junebug colored worms rigged Texas-style, SPRO Aruca Shads and Assassin Logger Toads some of the more productive lures.The small islands on the southern end of Lake Kissimmee are some of the first to see black crappie moving into the grass. Live minnows or a minnow-tipped jig are catching up to 20 per day right now. Anglers fishing at night are doing best on live minnows.
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